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Emanuel Will Be WH Chief Of Staff

Illinois Congressman Rahm Emanuel has accepted the position of chief of staff in the Obama administration. Emanuel, a veteran of the Clinton White House, was first elected to Congress in 2002. He chaired the DCCC during the party's successful 2006 election cycle and has served as chairman of the Democratic caucus for the past two years.

Emanuel has an excellent relationship with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, so his appointment will give the administration a leg up as it works to influence Congress. (Ken Rudin notes that it also takes him "out of the hunt to eventually succeed Pelosi as Speaker".) And he knows how the White House works, having served as a high level aide under President Clinton.

But the choice also comes with some risks. Emanuel is a policy centrist, but he's an enthusiastic partisan, and has earned a reputation as a hothead butt-kicker with a serious potty mouth (the Chicago Tribune describes him as a "Democratic political assassin"; some of his colleagues refer to him as "Rahmbo"). His fiery nature could complement Obama's cool demeanor -- or it could conflict with the President-elect's style and alienate Republicans whose support the White House will need as it pushes its legislative agenda.

The move suggests a return to prominence for the chief of staff position, both in terms of influence and public visibility; Emanuel is a well-known public figure and a Sunday talk show pro. Bush chiefs Andy Card and Josh Bolten seemed to lag behind Dick Cheney and Karl Rove in both notoriety and authority.